RFID Leads to Privacy Questions

EPC-RFID-TAGAs Radio Frequency Identification tags become more prevalent in retail supply chain management and theft prevention, the marketing applications, like billboards that display personalized messages to drivers, and consumer privacy issues, like chips implanted in humans!, surrounding RFID technology will also increase.

A great piece about filmmaker and RFID researcher/entrepreneur Stanton Kaye ran last week in LA Weekly. The article, by Steve Mikulan, along with the sidebar, identifies some of the adoption challenges and privacy concerns RFID proponents are facing. While the adoption issues in the U.S. are largely related to cost versus preexisting barcode infrastructure, future RFID use poses a number of issues related to consumer privacy rules since tags can actively transmit data and could link into consumer data beyond the point of sale all of which can be intercepted by third parties. In fact, groups such as CASPIAN – Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering and German group FoeBuD are actively campaigning against the growing use of these ‘spy chips’ and building technology to counter RFID tracking.

While the business and privacy matters of RFID continue to evolve here are a few examples of current and emerging uses:

Inventory management, SCM, citizen ID cards in China, pet microchipping, toll booth and mass transit payment, MINI Cooper ad campaign, point of sale and smart shelving at retail, passports, RFID ordering via mobile phone, RFID payment systems replacing magnetic stripe on credit cards.